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How to Sew Buttonholes: Tips & Techniques (2024)

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how to sew buttonholesAre you ready to take your sewing skills up a notch? Sewing buttonholes is a great way to give your projects that professional finish. In fact, research shows that about 96% of U.S. households own at least one item with sewn-on buttons or buttonholes! From learning the different types of buttonhole stitches and tips for better results to essential tools, this article will show you how to sew perfect buttonholes every time.

Key Takeaways

  • Buttonholes add a professional finish to sewing projects.
  • Different types of buttonholes can be used, such as rounded, rectangular, eyelet, and keyhole buttonholes.
  • Using quality tools like buttonhole feet and stabilizers is crucial for precise buttonhole sewing.
  • There are various techniques for sewing buttonholes, including utilizing a buttonhole foot, vintage machine attachments, manual stitching, and hand-sewn buttonholes.

Types of Buttonholes

Types of Buttonholes
There’s a style of buttonhole for your every need. Try a rounded one on knits for flexibility or rectangular when you need durability. Eyelet buttonholes have holes punched around the edge and work well on lightweight fabrics.

Keyhole buttonholes are reinforced for buttons under strain. Make pearl button sized ones for small shank buttons using a buttonhole foot to ensure they aren’t too loose. Rounded buttonholes have tapered ends suiting areas that need to flex. Use stretchy ones on knits or swimwear as they expand.

When sewing buttonholes, stabilize fabrics first and sew twice over it for a clean finish. Adjust tension if needed. Carefully cut open buttonholes with a seam ripper without clipping threads.

Knowing the array of buttonhole types and using the right sewing techniques will give you professional, long-lasting results.

Tips for Better Buttonholes

Tips for Better Buttonholes
Use interfacing behind the fabric area to stabilize it. This prevents the fabric from stretching during stitching. Make sure to use lightweight interfacing so the buttonhole’s still soft and flexible.

  1. Sew over the buttonhole more than once for a sturdier finish. This is especially useful for fabrics that fray easily.
  2. Consider using tissue paper strips under the buttonhole while sewing. This prevents the fabric from getting caught in the feed dogs and stitching.

Test buttonholes first on a fabric scrap identical to your project fabric. Check that the buttonhole length, density, and reinforcing are suitable before sewing on your actual garment. Take time to master buttonhole sewing for a polished, professional finish. With patience and practice, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful buttonholes.

How to Sew a One-Step Buttonhole Using a Buttonhole Foot

How to Sew a One-Step Buttonhole Using a Buttonhole Foot
Leaving the buttonhole foot attached will slow you down. But taking the time to swap it in is worth the effort. This ingenious attachment handles the tricky buttonhole process for you. Allow it to work its magic and you’ll have professional-looking buttonholes every time.

Here is how to sew a one-step buttonhole using your machine’s buttonhole foot:

  1. Insert the button you want to use into the foot to set the size.
  2. Position and lower the foot aligning its opening with your buttonhole marking.
  3. Set your machine to the buttonhole stitch setting. This’ll stitch the sides and bartacks automatically.
  4. Start sewing keeping your foot down until completing the buttonhole.
  5. Use a seam ripper to slice open the buttonhole. Take care not to snip any stitches.

With the buttonhole foot doing the work, you’re freed up to focus on placement and keeping the fabric taut. Consistent results are easy to achieve. Limit frustration and let technology take the reins for hassle-free buttonholes.

How to Sew a One-Step Buttonhole Using a Vintage Machine Attachment

How to Sew a One-Step Buttonhole Using a Vintage Machine Attachment
Dig into history’s treasure chest and outfit your trusty companion with a vintage machine attachment to effortlessly pierce the fabric.

  • Measure button size to select correct attachment size.
  • Insert fabric under attachment’s teeth or scrolls.
  • Lower lever to clamp fabric in place.
  • Choose straight or zigzag stitch as needed.
  • Gently depress pedal to sew buttonhole.
  • Carefully cut buttonhole open with seam ripper.
  • Try a sample first for practice.
  • Follow vintage machine’s manual for specifics.
  • Adjust stitch length and width settings.
  • Use thick thread in the bobbin for durability.

Vintage attachments open up creative options beyond modern machine’s one-step buttonhole stitches. With some tinkering and testing, these retro tools can produce various buttonhole styles on old and new machines alike.

How to Sew a Freehand Buttonhole Manually on a Sewing Machine

How to Sew a Freehand Buttonhole Manually on a Sewing Machine
You can manually stitch a freehand buttonhole right on your machine. This method gives you creative control to make buttonholes of any shape or size without relying on attachments.

Then, 1) lower the feed dogs and attach a buttonhole foot, 2) set a tight zigzag stitch, and 3) sew one side of the buttonhole shape. When you reach the rounded end, stop, pivot your fabric, and stitch the second side.

Make a few bartacks across each end then raise the feed dogs. Carefully cut the buttonhole open with sharp embroidery scissors.

With practice, you can master freehand buttonholes to customize sizes perfectly for each button on your sewing projects.

How to Hand Sew a Buttonhole

How to Hand Sew a Buttonhole

  1. Mark your buttonhole lines clearly with fabric marker or chalk. Make sure to mark the full length and width of the buttonhole slit.
  2. Sew a tight, straight stitch along the marked lines using strong thread. Use backstitch at each end for a secure hold.
  3. Carefully cut open the buttonhole slit using sharp scissors. Avoid cutting the threads!
  4. Finish the raw edges with a buttonhole stitch. Bring needle up through one side, down through the other, looping thread to cover the edge.

Hand sewing takes a bit more time, but gives you great control over your buttonholes. With the right materials and careful technique, your handworked buttonholes can look just as polished as machine versions.

Give it a try on a practice piece first. Soon those neat little buttonholes will be second nature.

Tools for Sewing Buttonholes

Tools for Sewing Buttonholes
When stitching buttonholes, having the right tools makes all the difference for a professional finish. Invest in a quality buttonhole foot or vintage attachment to allow your machine to handle this tricky task.

These gadgets guide the fabric and stitches to form straight, even, and attractive buttonholes. For manual methods, a buttonhole cutter gives you surgical precision. Slice through fabric layers without distortion along your marked line.

Fray Check is essential to stop raw edges from unraveling after cutting open the buttonhole. Apply it to the slit ends for durability. For thick denim, use an extra layer of stabilizer behind the buttonhole location.

This prevents tunneling or loose stitching even on heavy fabrics. With the right gadgets and techniques, your machine-sewn or hand-stitched buttonholes will look store-bought. Take your sewing skills up a notch with specialized tools and a bit of practice.

Sewing Jeans Buttonholes

Sewing Jeans Buttonholes
On rough denim and thick seams, even carefully aligned jeans buttonholes sometimes veer off course.

  1. Interface the buttonhole area with heavyweight stabilizer. This prevents distortion.
  2. Lengthen your stitch and reduce tension slightly. This allows the thread to penetrate thick denim.
  3. Use a jeans needle for optimal penetration. Change needles often to keep them sharp.
  4. Mark buttonhole placement precisely with chalk. Account for seam allowances.
  5. Select a longer, more rectangular style buttonhole. This accommodates thicker jean buttons.

With the right preparation and tools, you can achieve professional, clean buttonholes on any denim project. Simply take your time, follow proper technique, and don’t rush the process. Patience and practice lead to mastery when sewing jeans buttonholes.

How to Sew on Buttons

How to Sew on Buttons
After marking where to place your buttons, choose appropriately sized, sharp needles and matching threads to sew them on securely. When sewing on buttons by hand, focus on using sturdy stitches that can withstand frequent fastening and unfastening without loosening or breaking.

Here are some key steps:

  • Place the button where desired and mark placement with pins or chalk. Use a contrasting thread color to make stitches stand out.
  • Bring the needle up through one hole in the button and down through the adjacent hole.
  • Wrap the thread tightly under the button 3-4 times to form a shank, allowing space for the fabric to fit between the button and garment.
  • Bring the needle back through the fabric right next to the button.
  • Make several small stitches on the underside to secure thread ends.
  • Check the button is securely fastened by gently tugging.

Take care not to pull the stitches too tight or they may pucker fabric. Thicker buttons or coat buttons may require a tighter wrap to hold securely. Refer to your sewing machine manual for instructions on using the machine to sew on buttons.

Perfectly hand-sewn buttons can provide a polished, artisanal touch to any garment or project.

How to Open the Buttonhole

How to Open the Buttonhole
You’ll want to carefully cut open the buttonhole once it’s sewn. Avoid pulling or tugging the fabric as you cut.

  1. Start by inserting a pin at each end of the buttonhole to prevent accidentally cutting too far.
  2. Position the seam ripper or scissors close to one pinned end.
  3. Make a cut straight down the center toward the middle of the buttonhole. Stop before reaching the other end.

Go slowly and keep the cut centered. Check that the button slides through the opening comfortably. If too tight, carefully snip a bit more. Ensure both buttonhole ends remain secure. When the button moves freely without distorting the fabric, the buttonhole is properly cut open and ready for your project.

With patience and the right tools, cutting open buttonholes is an important finishing step for a professionally sewn look.


Sewing buttonholes can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle, with each piece fitting perfectly together to create a finished product. With the right tools and techniques, it’s easier than ever to create professional-looking buttonholes that are sure to last.

From one-step buttonholes using a buttonhole foot to freehand buttonholes on a sewing machine to hand-sewn buttonholes, there are many techniques and tools available to help you sew buttonholes.

Stabilize your fabric, mark the size and slit, and select the right stitch. Be sure to use the appropriate foot or attachment for your sewing machine and practice on scrap fabric. Sewing buttonholes can be a fun and satisfying process. With the right tools and tips, you’ll be able to create beautiful buttonholes for all your projects.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.